Bill Paterson lands key part in Outlander TV show

ONE of Scotland’s leading stage and screen stars has revealed how he thought he had won a cameo role in a new American sci-fi series being shot in Scotland – only to end up filming all over the country for months.
Bill Paterson: Demanding part as a lawyer in OutlanderBill Paterson: Demanding part as a lawyer in Outlander
Bill Paterson: Demanding part as a lawyer in Outlander

Bill Paterson is the most high-profile Scottish actor to be cast in Outlander, the biggest ever TV production to be made in his home country.

The 69-year-old star of films such as Comfort and Joy, A Private Function and The Killing Fields has won a part in the show almost half a century after making his professional debut.

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And he could end up in the show – which is billed as Scotland’s answer to the fantasy series Game of Thrones – for years to come as the eighth book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, is about to be published by US author Diana Gabaldon.

Paterson, who has been given a sneak preview of the first episode, has praised how Scotland is portrayed on-screen in Outlander, which follows the adventures of a married nurse after she is mysteriously propelled from just after the Second World War to the Jacobite rebellion, where she falls for a Highland warrior.

Glasgow-born Paterson has been handed the role of a canny Edinburgh lawyer lured north to the Highlands to advise the Clan Mackenzie, who are central to the plot of the best-selling 
series of novels.

Dumfriesshire-born actor Sam Heughan and Irish actress Caitriona Balfe play the two central characters, with other Scottish actors involved including John Sessions and Gary Lewis.

Speaking for the first time about the role, Paterson said it had been “much more demanding” than he had anticipated.

The show has been shot inside a converted warehouse complex on the outskirts of Cumbernauld, in North Lanarkshire, but has also been on extensive location shoots around the country.

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There is already huge anticipation over the launch of the 16-part series in August, particularly in the US, where the books are most popular, although it is not yet known when the TV show will be broadcast in the UK.

Paterson told The Scotsman: “I play Ned Gowan, an Edinburgh lawyer, who is a bit of an adventurer. He gives up the brass plates on his door and sets off to the Highlands for a bit of late adventure in life. He helps the clan chief to collect rent, but has got a double-dealing thing going on.

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“He’s an interesting wee figure. He is described as a delightfully elderly little man. I don’t know why they cast me! It’s a lovely wee part. I thought it was just going to be a cameo, but I’ve been on the show since February and have got another ten days or so to go on it.

“It’s been much more demanding than I thought it would be. I’ve had 60 long, long days or so on it and there has been a lot of travel. I’ve been in the studio and out on all kinds of locations. We’ve been up in Doune Castle, in quarries near Bathgate, in mills in East Linton, in East Lothian, up in Newtonmore and Rothiemurchus Forest in Aviemore and 
Aberfoyle in Perthshire.

“It’s a huge show, but I don’t know whether they’ll get around to making any more of them. It will all depend on how this series goes.”